Tuesday, 3 September 2013

"By Invitation Only" - PATINA....

....is this month's subject.

Living in the Périgord where every "corner" has its own 'patina',
the houses, architects old stone work, old shutters, old doors etc....., 
reflecting hundreds - even over thousand - of years history,
being 'patinated' or weathered during the centuries,
I could talk endlessly about.......

But as an antique dealer when I hear the word PATINA 
it's associate it mainly with antiques.
So, it is more than obvious for me that I'll talk about antique pieces,
antiques pieces that have varying kinds of genuine patina.
A genuine patina which has been built over the time
and is much appreciated by owners of antiques.

I'm sure that all of you who participate on our monthly BIO posts
know the definition of Patina.

But for my other dear readers:
The word "patina" comes from the Latin for "shallow dish".
Figuratively, patina can refer to any fading, darkening or other signs of age,
which are felt to be natural or unavoidable (or both).
The chemical process by which a patina forms is called patination,
and a work of art coated by a patina is said to be patinated.

As copper oxidises it also picks extra compound up from the atmosphere 
in which it is exposed,

 like this very large lovely about 200 year old copper 'tube', 
sitting since 'ages' in my friends garden nearby.
We still could not figure out so far for what it was originally used.

The green patina that forms naturally on copper and bronze, in general called
usually consists of varying mixtures of copper chlorides, sulfides, sulfates and carbonates,
depending upon environmental conditions such as sulfur-containing acid rain...etc....


It takes years of experience, observation, study, 
and training to differentiate between an antique piece of furniture 
and a faithful reproduction. 
Some characteristics, however, cannot be reproduced. 

 like here on this French Louis XIV. armchair in walnut, circa 1740

and seen on the detail of another armchair from the same period, below

Perhaps the most unmistakable characteristic is 
This is a mellowing of the surface acquired by wood through age, 
use, dusting, and polishing....



When I came to the Périgord first time in 1984
I "stumbled" over an antique Périgordian farm table
and fell in love with it!
So, I was specialised then for more than 25 years
- besides country furniture and decorative objects - 
in antique French farm tables.
One of the most important things, apart from the size and originality, 
was always the quality of the genuine patina, particularly on the table top. 
 After having bought them, after some normal restoration,
I always finally hand polished every table by myself.  

My back and my elbows could tell the story........!

But what a pleasure it was to see how my efforts had made bringing the piece back to "life",
to enhance the original patina.

19th Century Périgordian farm table in walnut

nothing more delightful than a deep patina.....

Périgordian farm table in cherry wood, circa 1840-50

 with some old repairs....

 signs of 'wear and tear'....

...all creating that genuine patina...


 Late 18th century table top in cherry wood
on a pair of English iron trestles from the 19th century

19th century

 late 19th century farm table in cherry wood with its original extensions,
ready to be re-polished

True patina is nonexistent on furniture only a few years old. 
Although fine mahogany, cherry, or maple, recently milled, may look handsome, 
they lack the glow that comes with a century or more of use. 

This was an exceptional table in walnut and 3,20 meter long
around 1830

The tone or color of course varies with the wood, 
but the bloom grows with age and handling. 
Restoring and refinishing always must be done carefully to avoid damaging the patina.

Table de Chasse in walnut and in its original condition, circa 1740
South-West France

The natural aging of wood contributes greatly to its patina. 
Backboards and drawers made of soft woods also color as they age. 
When they are taken out, the upper drawers may still be light-colored because they were protected. 
But the backboards and the bottom of the lowest drawer, which have been exposed, 
will have darkened and mellowed to a soft shade of brown. 
Again, this darkening cannot be reproduced or faked by applying stain.


 Detail of a large early 19th century pine table
which had the most beautiful patina

Detail of a mid-19th century Oak farm table

 18th Century oak table from a Chateau kitchen in the Périgord

When I went through my old table photos
I just got carried away......like now..
But - as I use to say and still do -
the table is one of the most important furniture in our western culture,
the table is the Heart of the house!

At the time they were like children for me,
giving me "pains" - but a 'hell' of a lot of pleasure!


Now - just for a change...

French late 18th century oil jar, 
an 18th and a 19th Century lime stone finial

...all nicely weathered over the time....

A patina layer takes many years to develop under natural weathering

The oil jar was originally glazed,
but as the previous owner had it standing outside for....god knows how long...
now it looks just gorgeous for me 
and it lives happily here inside the house.

"Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time," 
"The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top,
the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics,
the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate.


"All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character.
Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique."
Michael Flanigan, a Baltimore antiques dealer said.

I could not phrase it better.

18th century Périgordian small oil jar in its condition as found,
I'll certainly not touch or clean it,
that would destroy to some extend the lovely patina.

For collected pieces, the change in appearance is usually caused 
by the build-up of dirt, grease, polish, or chemical changes in the finish 
or the object itself. 
That "old look" usually gives an object a rich and attractive appearance.

A silvered Louis XVI. mirror, circa 1780

and a silvered Regence mirror, circa 1730-40
both with the original glass and in their original condition

Preserving a piece's look and character is important 
and removal or reduction may dramatically reduce its value.

Late 18th century chair in walnut from the Black Forest

with its natural patina, never polished by myself


Late 18th century hemp/wool comb or flax hatchel
from my "Old tools" collection

in metal and wood
with a beautiful patina


English vintage bread boards from the 1930-40's
just "on their way" to build up a kind of patina

 Antique German cake or tart boards
(not bread boards originally, as they are called by now in the world...)
But of course perfect for any kind of use, bread, cheese....etc....

...just a few of my collection, 
together with a few French vintage chopping boards

all with genuine signs of use, wear and tear
which is the base or 'foundation' of a genuine patina.


French late 19th century to early 20th century butter jars
with their own kind of patina


Valuable antique furniture and some objects will have a layer of grime on its surface 
from years of exposure to dust, dirt and fumes. 
Collectors and buyers of good antique furniture look for this layer of grime,

 which is referred to as the antique's "patina."

Detail of a Biedermeier sofa in walnut, 
German, circa 1830-40


Detail of an early French 18th Century armchair in walnut 
in its original condition,
including the leather, circa 1740


 If an object is described as having a "fine patina" it's usually meant as a compliment. 
If something is said to "lack patina," it usually means the object lacks character.

There are so many other objects like patinated Bronze sculptures, vases, etc....
I could go on for ever...

Not to mention originally painted furniture...

 ...it would fill several posts...

...and you might have seen enough by now!

But - as I said right at the start of this post -
I'm an antique dealer, couldn't help - 
just got carried away...again...as usual with a BIO post.

 However you pronounce PATINA, 
the word is as rich as the objects it describes.

 "a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use",
 "an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, 
or established character"

which brings me to (just to name a few):

 Sean Connory, born 1930  
83 years old


 Clint Eastwood, born 1930, 83 years old


 Merle Haggard, born 1937,  76 years old

"We've got bad times behind us
And the good times up ahead
And hopes are high …"


  Willi Nelson, born 1933, 80 years old

 Helmut Schmidt, born 1918, 
1974 bis 1982 the fifth German chancellor.
95 years old...
...still smoking - a bit like a "chimney"

smoking...as long as he can!
Helmut Schmidt is probably the only person in the world
who still smokes in public, and - is allowed to do it!
That's what I call an 'established character'!


Knowing the ladies in our 'BIO-club',
I'm sure that some will come up with lovely images 
of beautiful "patinated" Women.
So, I have stuck to the men!


 Coming to the end, finally....

Living in a centuries old property, in a country so full of history,


we are surrounded by patina inside and outside


including myself

Having said that....
here a little anecdote from Israel Sack,
  the famous New York antiques dealer who lived in the first part of the 20th century. 
Sack is said to have used the following analogy to help define "patina" for one of his senior female patrons: 
"Today you are a lovely woman of 60. However, who you are today is not who you were when you were 20. 
The difference is patina."

I'll drink to that!

At last but not least
for me - PATINA goes together or hand-in-hand with AUTHENTICITY.

So, stay as you are!

please pop over to Marshas' blog 
  to find and visit all our blogger friends,

to see and read their thoughts about PATINA
I can promise you - you will enjoy it!
just click

Bye - Bye, see you...


  1. Dear Karin, Congratulations! A most fantastic post. Your dedication to the subject is remarkable. We have been to your historic home and I do remember so many of the beautiful pieces you have featured. I would give almost anything to own one of your stunning tables.
    Will you share with us what you use on your wood to keep them so beautiful. ox, Gina

    1. My dear Gina,
      YES, I will tell you what I use for polishing, it's actually very simple. Simple like most of the things in my life :)
      Will write to you soon...still having a break from blogging, just did this post.
      Bis recht bald, lieben Gruss auch an Gene, k

  2. Those tables, goodness those tables. Karin, what a post you have given us today. And, actually I learned quite a lot. I would have scrubbed those butter pots for sure. This is what we all love about you, your knowledge and your ability to show it to us in a witty way, including Clint and Sean was the icing on the cake. A big thank you for introducing us to Audrey and for continuing to contribute to By Invitation Only! I agree with Gina, we need to know what products to use on wood to help make it this beautiful. xx's

    1. Thank you, Dear! As you can see - finally I've got myself together to join our group for this month's post, thanks to your encouragement.
      Will write a 'little' post (little as possible - ha-ha) about polishing antiques. It's not really a secret and very simple (well simple for me), one needs just the right products and - of course - LOVE for the piece. By trying out several methodes at the beginning of my career - I can tell you and everybody who would like to know the easiest way....
      Will write comments to all of our friends tomorrow....hopefully....being still on holiday, holiday from internet, blogging and PC.

  3. I can fully understand why those tables stole your heart, your imagination, and your hand/back muscles all those years ago! And I alos understand why they steal it still...they are magnificent pieces, both as a slice of history (oh if each could talk of the conversations it has witnessed!) and as a thing of beauty.

  4. Dear Karin,
    This is such a fabulous post on Patina! I first loved the aged tables so much and how the wood changes (for the better)over the years. The oil jars and butter dishes are so authentic, the antique silver mirrors, and bread boards. So much to absorb and wonder about the past, those who used these pieces. If only walls could talk! Thank you so much!

    Oh and for the men, I saw Pierce Brosman in a recent film and he has gained that appearance of years that take a toil on our emotions and thus bodies;yet still one of the handsomest men in the world!

    Feature: Entrepreneur Sigal Sasson

  5. Love love love! And the mention of Israel Sack! You make my heart sing... Memories of New England antiquing as a child and teen, more in my 30s+ as well in my more domestic days.


    D. A.
    Daily Plate of Crazy

  6. Bonjour,

    Comme prévu, après mes longues semaines éloignées des blogs, me revoici parmi vous ! Vous m'avez beaucoup manqué...
    Je suis heureuse d'ouvrir aujourd'hui la page de votre dernière publication.
    Une publication d'un grand intérêt...
    Je possède deux anciennes grande table, dont une provenant de la région de Bordeaux en fût de chêne. Elle est superbe !
    Merci pour vos merveilleuses photos et l'ensemble de vos écrits.
    Gros bisous

    1. Martine, Je vous laisse un petit mot ici ; j'espère que La Pouyette ne m'en voudra pas. Mais quel plaisir de découvrir des gens ici (et chez Marsha) qui parlent français. C'est le bonus !

      En attendant de vous lire chez vous, quand vous serez rentrée des vacances.

      Et chapeaux à Marsha, comme toujours, pour un tel groupe de femmes fascinantes.

      D. A.

  7. Fantastic post ... really interesting and your love of the subject shines through.
    PATINA is a life story.

  8. What a wonderful post on Patina you have given us Karin ..... you always do fantastic posts for our BIO subject.
    Beautiful antiques, glorious patina on all of them and great inspiration, as always. XXXX

  9. Love this post Karin, I agree....patina is something that can not be faked. We have a gorgeous oak mule chest that has acquired a beautiful finish from years of polish.
    Julie x

  10. Hooray! Oh I knew that you would have fun with this subject Karin--you are an expert in patine!!! And it was all so beautiful, it was absolutely a feast!! I might just need to get out the beeswax to do our cherry wood monastery table today--worth it for the shine and the scent too. ;)
    Gros Bisous et scratchies à Oskar!

  11. I am late for work...I was so engrossed reading your post that i lost track of time. Boen in the Southwest of France, I grew up surrounded by antiques. In the states, i kept the tradition of taking care of antiques. i import the "cire " from france and wax on a regular basis wood and metal pieces from my house and my showroom. I teach my clients' housekeepers how to care for beautiful old wood.

  12. Dear Karin, I knew this theme would be right up your street and have so looked forward to your post - and how fabulous it is, you have outdone us all as I knew you would! I love, love the focus on farmhouse tables with the wear and tear of daily life - your collection of photos is magnificent. And love the men with 'patina'! How right you are to remind us to focus on authenticity.
    Thank you for a truly wonderful post. A hug to you xo

  13. Karin...your posts always have such a wonderful charm and I love the little anecdote from Israel Sack...beautifully said :-)
    Have a wonderful week.

  14. Beautifully inspiring.

    Loved my visit and will return taking in all you inspire.


  15. Wonderful images, wonderful ideas, wonderful patina, wonderful tables.
    Thank you for visiting and making a comment.
    Saluti da Roma

  16. Hi Karin, what a wonderful post ... so many nice photos of patina mmmm even the word makes me feel happy ! and hehe love the portraits you used ..great !
    Gail x

  17. patina + authenticity = inspiration.Thank you